The Sharks might have been missing their biggest agitator Saturday, but that didn't stop them from playing what might have been their most physical game of this year's postseason.
Faced with the prospect of trailing three games to none to the Los Angeles Kings in this Western Conference semifinal series, the Sharks responded by taking the body with more frequency than they had in the first two games in Southern California.
The end result was a 2-1 overtime win by the Sharks that ensured their season won't end at home in Game 4 on Tuesday.
"It felt like our forwards were being physical, but it felt like that the first two games as well," defenseman Marc Edouard-Vlasic said. "As the series goes along, it starts to wear on certain guys. We did a great job tonight."
The Sharks might have been without Raffi Torres, who was suspended by the NHL on Thursday for what was deemed an illegal hit on the Kings' Jarret Stoll in Game 1, but that didn't stop them from playing a greater edge.
The most physical check of the series and one of the biggest of the postseason came in the first period. As Justin Williams tried to carry the puck out of the Kings' zone, he was met near the blue line by Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart, who leveled Williams with a shoulder check that brought the HP Pavilion crowd to its feet.
The Sharks were outhit in the first two games, but registered 22 hits to the Kings' 11 in the first period and held a 37-25 advantage in that department through two periods.
Stuart had five hits to his credit through the first three periods, which was matched by James Sheppard and eclipsed only by Tommy Wingels' six.
"It was huge," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said of Stuart's hit. "You could just feel the building get electric. He's done it all year for us."
Stuart's hit came after he played a role in the Kings' only goal, as a giveaway by the Sharks defense in their own end led to Tyler Toffoli's point-blank backhand shot that got past goalie Antti Niemi.